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'Dolemite' returns; Rich pens 'Miracle'

NEW YORK — Dimension Films has made a deal to remake the blaxploitation cult pic “Dolemite,” which is being reconceived for LL Cool J to play the title role.

“Dolemite” was released in 1975 and starred Rudy Ray Moore, who also toplined two sequels that came out in the blaxploitation craze that included “Superfly” and “Shaft.” Four major studios bid for the remake rights.

Pic will be scripted by Buddy Johnson, who wrote “Not a Teen Movie,” the Columbia teen spoof film produced by Neal Moritz. Moore, who currently does standup, will advise on the film and play a role.

The new “Dolemite” will loosely follow the original, but will be contemporized. LL Cool J will play a flashy entrepreneur who’s been framed by a rival, who planted drugs in his nightclub. When the freshly paroled Dolemite is denied admittance to his club and finds out that the rival took over and is dealing drugs there, Dolemite goes into revenge mode, with the help of his trio of butt-kicking female friends — purportedly lethal enough to open up a can of whupass on Charlie’s Angels.

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“Dolemite” will be produced by Irving Azoff, Jon Jashni and Rick Alexander, the trio that is producing “Conan the King” for Warner Bros. They landed the rights from Moore’s distribution partners Leigh Savidge and Stephen Housden of Xenon Pictures, who’ll be co-exec producers on the film.

LL Cool J, the rapper-turned-actor who has shown charisma and leading man potential with films like “Deep Blue Sea,” will be exec producer. He’ll next be seen onscreen starring with Chris Klein in the John McTiernan-directed remake of “Rollerball” for MGM.

Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein’s championing the project, with co-heads of production Brad Weston and Andrew Rona shepherding the film. Michael Helfant and Andrew Gumpert negotiated the film for the studio, with WMA and 3 Arts repping LL Cool J and BKWU repping Johnson.

MIRACLE MAN: Mike Rich, the former radio newscaster who is living a screenwriter’s dream, is taking on the ultimate sports tale. In a deal worth high six- against low-seven figures, Rich has been signed to rewrite “The Miracle,” Disney’s feature depiction of how the U.S. hockey team defeated a seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union team to win the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.

The film landed at Disney based on a pitch by scribe Eric Guggenheim and which was brought in by Disney exec Mark Vahradian. Rich has been on a career rise since the first script he wrote, “Finding Forrester.” He followed by scripting “The Rookie,” another Vahradian-shepherded Touchstone underdog story based on Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris, a 37-year-old science teacher who took one last shot at his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues. And he recently made a deal to script “Someone to Lean On,” about a troubled kid’s relationship with a high school football coach that Rich is writing as a directing vehicle for Mike Tollin. Rich is repped by UTA.

BOOKED UP: Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed” is headed for the bigscreen. The book, which just hit its 10th printing, has been optioned by the producing trio of Richard Brick (“Sweet and Lowdown”), Marcia Nasatir (“Vertical Limit”) and Karen Danaher-Door (“Crazy in Love”), who have teamed with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector to buy the book.

“Nickel and Dimed” covers Ehrenreich’s curiosity about how low-scale workers live. Posing as a divorced woman re-entering the workplace, she took such low-wage jobs as a waitress, hotel maid, cleaning lady, nursing home aide and Wal-Mart clerk. She chronicled the lives and struggles of the people around her, trying to raise families on substandard wages.

ICM repped the book.

HE’S NOT RICH, LEAVE HIM ALONE: As owner of the Laugh Factory and manager of several standup comics, Jamie Masada knows a good punchline when he hears it. But he’s been reeling from the effects of being a punchline delivered by comic George Miller on “Late Show With David Letterman.”

Masada says that since Miller told Letterman that the comic club owner had won $18 million in the California State Lottery, his life has become a bad joke. “I am getting 100 calls a week, from people claiming to be lost relatives, comedians, all looking for money,” said Masada. The calls range from a supposed comic looking to be bailed out of jail, to distant callers claiming that they are relatives. “They think I’m a woman because of my name.”

Masada wants to set the record straight. Not only hasn’t he won the lottery, he now hopes he never does. “If someone offers to give you $18 million with the stipulation that it be publicized, turn it down because the aggravation isn’t worth it. I had no idea there were so many con artists out there.”

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